By Vatican News
The news of the Pope’s impromptu visit was announced in a tweet from the Pontifical Lateran University itself, at 9am on Tuesday morning. Pope Francis, reads the tweet, will be making a surprise visit to the University, in order to lead the Lenten Meditation. And that’s exactly what happened: Pope Francis arrived and took his cue from the liturgical readings of the day, starting with Book of the Prophet Daniel.
Fidelity to God and martyrdom
The text of the reading describes how the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar throws three young sons of Israel into a burning furnace, because they refuse to worship his golden statue. “Their convinced determination to be faithful to God and to preserve their freedom exposes them in fact to martyrdom”, said the Pope, “as it happens also today to your Christian peers, in some parts of the world”. But God intervenes to prevent the flames from hurting them.
“To be enveloped in flames and to remain unharmed: this is possible with the help of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, and the breeze of the Holy Spirit”, said Pope Francis. “Even if we live in a cultural context marked by a single thought, which envelops and anesthetizes everyone with its deadly embrace, burning all forms of creativity and different thinking, we walk unharmed thanks to our roots in Jesus and His Gospel”.
A healthy perspective
Academic experience, said the Pope, is meant to provide you with critical awareness and a capacity for discernment. Fidelity to the Gospel and acceptance of the rich patrimony of the Church's traditions is intended to provide you with a "healthy" perspective of the times in which we live. Those times are marked by what the Pope called a “comfortable and stingy individualism”, all of us concerned solely with “our own well-being, free time and self-fulfillment”. “How dangerous all this is”, said Pope Francis, “how it separates us from others and therefore from reality, how much it makes us sick”.
“The studies you do at this University”, continued the Pope, “will be fruitful and useful only to the extent that they do not detach you from this conscious belonging to the history of people and of all humanity”. Instead, he concluded, “they will help you to interpret the world and to build the future together with the Lord, well founded in belonging to the holy people of God, whom He guides with love, inspires, nourishes and corrects with His Word”.